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The Most Awkward Moments From Gwyneth Paltrow’s Testimony


The Gwyneth Paltrow trial isn’t exactly “The Staircase.” No one died in the ski collision at the heart of the matter. As the Oscar-winning actress’s lawyers say, no one was even seriously injured. And yet the public is transfixed by the lawsuit, in which retired optometrist Terry Sanderson is suing Paltrow for more than $300,000, alleging that seven years ago she plowed into him on a rabbit hole in Utah and heartlessly skied off, leaving him with broken ribs and debilitating brain damage. Paltrow claims the story is largely fabricated.

It’s a process that’s most captivating in its little moments, and perhaps the smallest of those was on Friday, when Paltrow took the stand in a long navy blue skirt and Sanderson’s attorney, Kristin VanOrman, just… couldn’t… tall she is!

VANORMAN: “May I ask how tall you are?”

PALTROW: “I’m just under 5-10. However, I think I am shrinking.”

VANORMAN: “Both you and me. I am so jealous. I have to wear 4 inch heels to get the 5-5.

PALTROW: “Oh, they’re very nice.”

VanOrman’s smirking, sneering banter with the actress — who won an Academy Award for “Shakespeare in Love” and now runs the Goop lifestyle empire — was refreshing, if not a little shocking after three days of dry medical expert testimony and prickly cross-examination. Some watching the process on social media even thought VanOrman was representing Paltrow, that’s how cozy they seemed.

VANORMAN: “I’m a mom, I have a few kids, actually about your age, one of them. Not your age! Your daughter’s age. Sorry. I’m not that old.”

In fact, VanOrman was trying to subtly suggest through her pleasantries that maybe Paltrow was being reckless on the slope, perhaps watching her kids ski instead of what lay ahead. And the lawyer could switch abruptly from light chatter to full-on questioning, though she never seemed unfriendly.

VANORMAN: “You’re not trained in accident reconstruction.”

VANORMAN (grinning): “Yes.”

VANORMAN: Neither do I.

We won’t attempt to judge the legal merit of VanOrman’s arguments, or predict whether her client will win when the trial is over, probably next week. But we could argue that in her dialogues with Paltrow, the Utah attorney stole every scene with awkwardly charming witticisms like this:

VANORMAN: “You are small but mighty. You’re actually not that small.”

VANORMAN: “I take it, you’re under oath here, that you’re a good tipper!”

The Washington Post reached out to VanOrman for comment on her star turn. She apologized and said she cannot comment until the trial is over. Paltrow’s reps didn’t immediately reach out to us about what she thinks.

Thomas Floyd contributed to this report.

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